Horses and racing supporters are not to travel to Cheltenham as a result of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

With more cases of foot and mouth disease being detected across Britain, it is looking increasingly unlikely that Irish horses will have any hope in taking part in either of next month's big jump meetings across the water.

Chairman of the Irish Racehorse Trainers Association (IRTA) Willie Mullins said that having met with the Department of Agriculture, they reiterated that they did not want Irish horses travelling to Aintree or Cheltenham. Furthermore, they did not want Irish supporters travelling either. Willie Mullins supports the advice from Minister Joe Walsh not to travel.

Willie Mullins is hopeful that domestic racing will be back running by Easter and the plan is to put in place extra races with additional prize money to compensate for missing out on the British meetings.

Edward Gillespie Manager at Cheltenham Racecourse,  says that the plans for the festival will go ahead so long as the racecourse remains outside the infected area. However, he is disappointed that Irish horses are unlikely to take part.

Any continued spread of the disease closer to the racecourse would mean the end of hope of staging the festival.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 March 2001. The reporter is Eamonn Falvey.